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"They keep me going. They the reason why I make music," Waka Flocka tells The BoomBox. Waka Flocka's appreciation for the 'Three F's' will become evident throughout the day as the BoomBox tags along for his busy schedule, consisting of three in-store appearances around Atlanta. Later he'll celebrate at an album release party for his debut, 'Flockavelli,' an album influenced more so by Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli than the alias legendary rapper Tupac Shakur released his final album under. "It was influenced by the story [Tupac] introduced me to: the real Machiavelli. Machiavelli was just a brainiac. I love his war [tactics] and everything about him," explains Waka Flocka.
Waka Flocka is an artist who seems to be misinterpreted on a more than regular basis, whether it's in the media or behind closed doors by hip-hop elitists. He quickly rose to hip-hop fame following the '09 release of his hit song 'O Let's Do It,' the subsequent release of a slew of street mixtapes, and a number of unflattering moments in the media. Among the many misinterpretations is the fact that he wasn't born anywhere near Georgia. In fact, he was actually born and raised in one of the meccas of hip-hop: Queens, New York. "It was just rough. Rough child life. You know back then it was rough," says Waka Flocka of growing up in Queens. "It taught you a lot. Taught you how to just know when to execute. It teach you how to execute. My mama moved down here and I had to move with her. She just wanted to change, that's it."
The day starts off around 3PM, a few hours later than expected due to tour bus issues, but Waka Flocka seems unphased by the tardiness and neither do his fans. The rapper clad in all-black-everything, from his black Timberland's to the black Oakland Raiders hat on his head, emerges from his tour bus greeted by a small, but sincere group of fans outside of the DBS Sounds record store in Riverdale, Ga. Waka greets each one of them as if they were an old high school friend or a neighbor his mother borrowed sugar from way back when. Upon entering DBS Sounds Waka is greeted by a flurry of camera phone snapshots. He heads straight for the DVD section and picks up a DVD that features none other than himself on the cover. He examines it for a few seconds and then gently places it back on the shelf he pulled it from.
Out of courtesy, the group of fans observing Waka's every move in the record store give him a few minutes before pouncing on the rapper for photo op's and album signings. A young rapper by the name of Kenneth even approaches prompting an impromptu mixtape listening session. At well over six-feet tall Waka towers over each and every one of his fans. In the corner of the store, a giddy kid no older than 12-years-old dances excitedly to 'O Let's Do It' as it blares in the background. Following a few pictures Waka again get his browse on. This time the rapper peruses through the record stores collection of books and picks up 'Rich Dad's Guide to Investing: What the Rich Invest In, That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not.' After a co-sign from the store's manager Waka then hands the book and a wad of cash to his mom-ager Debra. After about 30 minutes of non-stop pictures and album signings Waka and his crew of family and friends bid everyone adieu and head to the tour bus for another record store appearance.
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Behind the Video With The-Dream
"Them motherf---ers crazy," a raspy-voiced Waka Flocka shouts while watching a documentary on the notorious MS-13 gang on his tour bus. Prior to watching the MS-13 gang documentary he quickly fast-forwarded his way through 'New Orleans Exposed' and 'Atlanta Exposed' two films that take a look at the much grittier side of each city. His choice of entertainment isn't terribly surprising for a rapper whose name is said to come from a combination of a Muppets character and the sound of a gun firing. But it's not all gang documentaries and street DVD's for Waka Flocka as he later pulls out a bag full of DVD's consisting of what he refers to as "classics." 'Coming to America,' 'She's Gotta Have It,' and 'Crooklyn' are just a few of the 'classics' stuffed in the plastic bag of recently purchased DVD's.
After moving from street DVD's to the 'Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions' video game, Waka Flocka takes a break from shooting webs at Spidey to speak on the music industry. "You manipulate yourself," Waka Flocka reveals. "Ain't nobody manipulate you unless you let them. If you ain't on point they gon' smell it, they gon' know it, and they gonna attack on it. So you playing yourself. They ain't playing you. You playing yourself." For those who may doubt Waka Flocka's passion for the music he makes, the young rapper is actually quite serious about his music. In fact, he's deadly serious. "I'd die for my music. I'd die for what I talk about. Dead a-- serious. That's what I rap about. That's what I stand for," Waka Flocka explains.
The second in-store appearance is quite similar to the first although this time instead of purchasing a collection of DVD's and a book on investing Waka Flocka opts for a Snickers candy bar and a pack of Reese's cups. He mixes and mingles, signs a stack of posters, takes a few flicks, then it's off in search of nourishment of the edible kind. Waka Flocka and his crew walk to a nearby soul food restaurant, but are immediately informed by an older woman guarding the door that no cameras are allowed. They unenthusiastically walk over to the neighboring hot wing spot and place their orders.
Daniel Reed for AOL
The last in-store signing is a little livelier than the first two. HOT 107.9's Beestroh keeps the large crowd hyped with 'No Hands,' 'Hard In The Paint,' and other tracks from 'Flockavelli.' Surrounded by two models Waka Flocka sits atop a small stage in the middle of the DTLR clothing store. For close to two hours he signs albums, gets up countless times for pictures and all the while his amiable demeanor never seems to change. He's in it for the "Triple F's" so, of course, it wouldn't. While the day was full of genuine support from his fans Waka Flocka is well aware of the hate his music gets. He isn't bothered by it because he knows that at the end of the day it's his opinion that matters the most.
"Don't worry about no haters. No bloggers," he explains. "Drop what you like. Drop what you know. Drop what you like to do. Don't rap because such and such rap about that. You rap what you wanna rap and it's gon' work. If it don't work then it ain't your time."